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The title is misleading, Tomlinson’s book being specifically about musical performance, not musical content.

The author became fascinated by mind/body/emotion connections when she suffered from tendonitis while at music college. ‘This book is written for any classical musician who has been devastated by performance anxiety, who struggles with physical problems like tendonitis, nodules, or who battles with issues of confi dence and self-belief,’ writes Tomlinson. In her book we read about ‘the bully’, ‘the inner critic’, ‘taking back your power’, ‘the mask of arrogance’ and ‘the medical route’. Having also seen the mention of tendonitis on the cover, and having known many music students who suffered from performance injuries, one expects to read much more, say, about the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), which was originally intended to treat injured musicians, or to hear about the Dutch musculoskeletal physicians who visit music colleges and schools to advise afflicted players. The book falls short of providing a comprehensive manual for the suffering instrumentalist except, wisely I think, to urge caution. ‘Operations are really a last resort,’ counsels Tomlinson.

Some of the homilies quoted in chapter headings are misleading and puzzling. ‘What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve,’ JS Bach is quoted as saying. Bach’s eminence notwithstanding, this is nonsense, otherwise the world would be jam-packed with brilliant composers who achieved success simply by ‘industry and practice’. ‘Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding,’ says Khalil Gibran. There my own understanding falls short, I’m afraid, Gibran’s assertion being cryptic to the point of incomprehensibility.

The book has no index, neither does it give any information about organisations or individuals who could help. Useful as far as it goes, Tomlinson’s book would offer more if it provided a compendium of resources for those musicians and teachers held back by mind and body.

A positive publication that could yet be developed into an indispensable handbook.

JOHN ROBERT BROWN Read the full review on Agora Classica

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